Developing a Data Linkage System to Enable Innovative Research
Data linkage is a technique used to connect pieces of information that relate to the same individual, family, place, or event. Western Australia (WA) has developed a unique health data linkage system that connects information about all health events for individuals, including births, hospital admissions, cancer, mental health, and deaths. It offers longitudinal data, is cost-effective, and protects the individual’s privacy.
Through the Developmental Pathways in WA Children Project*, the WA Health Data Linkage System has been linked with data collections on education, disability, juvenile delinquency, child protection, and housing. This enables innovative research on multiple causes of poor outcomes in children’s health and development, from an interdisciplinary perspective including public health, biomedical science, and social and economic sciences.
Germany has a wide range of data sources for empirical social, economic, and health research. The two big players in data collection and use are: 1) academic researchers in universities and non-university research institutions; and 2) relevant government agencies. Until recently, it was almost impossible to access official micro data. The German Data Forum (RatSWD) was established in 2004 by the Ministry of Education and Research as an institution of exchange and mediation between the interests of science and data producers, and as a platform for communication and coordination.
This conference features leading experts on data linkage and data infrastructure in both countries and stimulates discussions about future developments in this area. It is a show case of exemplary population health research ena-bled by data linkage.